Imagine logging into your seller account in the morning, only to be hit by the following customer reviews:
“Do not purchase this product, it’s a total fake.” “Warning: This product is a dupe!” “The product I ordered fell apart in a day.”
Confused? Well, we hate to break it to you, but you got hijacked. Or more specifically, you had your Amazon listing hijacked.
Here’s what probably happened: A fraudulent seller noticed your product was selling well, decided to make a counterfeit, and sold it for less on Amazon.
Enticed by the low price, shoppers then bought the product from the hijacker instead of you (usually without even realizing it). Then they received low-quality products and marched right back onto Amazon to leave a scathing review of your listing.
Your hijacker profits. You and your customers both lose.
Unfortunately, in the world of e-commerce, it happens to the best of us. But while Amazon listing hijacking might seem out of your control, there are ways to take action and regain power over your product listings.
The Truth About Amazon Listing Hijacking
- What Is Amazon Listing Hijacking? (And Why It’s Just as Scary as It Sounds)
- The True Cost of Hijacked Amazon Listings
- First, Who Exactly Are These Amazon Listing Hijackers?
- 3 Proven Ways to Give Hijackers the Boot
- Protect Your Listings from Future Hijackings
Selling on Amazon isn’t for the faint of heart. Before diving in, make sure you’re clear on the A to Z of Amazon Seller Accounts, including all the benefits and drawbacks of growing your brand on the world’s leading marketplace.
What Is Amazon Listing Hijacking? (And Why It’s Just as Scary as It Sounds)
According to JungleScout’s State of the Amazon Seller survey, 48% of Amazon sellers reported feeling concerned about hijackers, and for good reason.
Here are just a few of the ways Amazon listing hijackers can damage a growing brand:
- Lower prices on counterfeit products means you lose customers.
- By taking over popular listings, they also hijack your chances of winning the Buy Box.
- High returns and bad reviews could get you suspended from Amazon.
Not to mention, it also takes a lot of time to resolve these issues. And Amazon Customer Service is notoriously complicated.
When asked about their biggest challenge, one seller interviewed by JungleScout put it like this: “Hijackers and Amazon glitches that have gotten my listing or account suppressed multiple times. I have spent more hours this year dealing with non-issue ‘issues’ than I have for product research.”
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The True Cost of Hijacked Amazon Listings
Unfortunately, hijacked listings don’t just come with a time cost.
When a hijacker successfully takes over your listing for an extended period of time, there are many damaging consequences and they all lead to decreased profits and conversions.
In a market where 94% of customers don’t buy from a business with bad reviews, hijacked listings delivering low-quality counterfeit products can deal a powerful blow to your brand.
Losing the Buy Box
It’s no secret the majority of Amazon sales are made through the Buy Box.
Unfortunately, even if you manage to compete with a hijacker on price, you still may not be able to keep the Buy Box. That’s especially true if a hijacker has been selling counterfeit products in other markets on Amazon where you’re not yet active.
With more time and reviews on their side, the hijacker is simply better positioned to hold the Buy Box in the eyes of Amazon’s algorithm.
A BIG Drop in Sales
Even if a customer buys a product from a hijacker, it’s still your listing that gets a bad rap.
If your hijacker drops the ball on product quality or fulfillment, your performance index suffers which could even get you banned from Amazon.
Clearly, hijacked Amazon listings are a drain on your time, energy, and sales. So what can you do about it?
Looking for more proven ways to protect your Amazon profits? Don’t miss our complete guide to a healthy ROI for Amazon sellers.
First, Who Exactly Are These Amazon Listing Hijackers?
The first item of business is to know who you’re dealing with. Whether it’s a competitor, troll, or automated scammer, an Amazon listing hijacker is a seller who has a counterfeit product listed under your brand’s name.
Because both your product and theirs look the same (oftentimes, they’ll copy your exact listing), customers may not be able to tell the difference.
It’s important to note, resellers and hijackers are not the same (although both could position their products under your listing). Resellers sell versions of your products they have acquired through arbitrage, whereas hijackers sell counterfeit products.
How Hijackers Find Your Vulnerabilities
While nothing can completely protect you from being targeted by hijackers, there are some things that could increase the likelihood of a listing being hijacked.
Here are some of the potential weak spots to look out for:
- Low inventory: It’s easier for a hijacker to come out on top when you run out of inventory and a customer is looking to buy your product.
- Limited branding on packaging and products: If your products consistently come with your own branded packaging, customers may be able to flag the listing when receiving a counterfeit product. But without branded packaging, customers may be less able to tell the products apart.
- Skipping the Brand Registry program: Amazon’s Brand Registry program lets you “trademark” your brand using the Amazon IP accelerator, which can help weed out the hijackers.
- Promoting hard-to-believe marked-down products: Actively promoting big discounts makes it easier for hijackers to list low-cost products under your listing.
At risk for going out of stock on Amazon? The struggle is real, but the impact on your business doesn’t have to be. These practical steps will help you stay in stock and protect your Amazon profits.
3 Proven Ways to Give Hijackers the Boot 🥾
Now that we’re clear on the real damage Amazon listing hijackers can do, let’s look at ways to get hijackers out of your business and listings once and for all.
#1. Report them, report them, report them.
If you’re already enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry and IP Accelerator, you can use your trademark documents to file an official complaint against the hijacker.
By reporting them, you may also qualify for Amazon Project Zero, which can help you detect and remove counterfeits from your listing. To be eligible, you need to be registered with Brand Registry with at least a 90% acceptance rate of all the infringements you’ve reported.
You can also enlist the help of the Amazon Counterfeit Crimes Unit which is dedicated to supporting sellers and customers in their battle against hijackers. The unit even provides legal support to businesses that want to take the issue up with law enforcement.
#2. Send a cease-and-desist letter.
When it comes to listings hijackers, a little confrontation can go a long way.
Consider writing a strongly-worded cease and desist (C&D) letter to your hijacker letting them know you’re aware of what’s going on and that if they don’t pull their products from your listing, you’re not afraid to escalate the situation.
Remember to also include information proving that the product is your intellectual trademarked property that you have full rights to. This will immediately let them know that by law, you have the upper hand.
But it’s important to note, this approach may also come with a downside, as business attorney Casey Hewitt shared with Helium 10:
“If you send a Cease and Desist threat to another brand, it might make the people at the brand more likely to sit on their hands until you actually take the legal action threatened. If you are sending out lots of C&Ds that may be false or contain false claims, you could be opening yourself up to open-ended legal liabilities. Especially if you are doing something like sending counterfeit claims without making test purchases.”
Sending a C&D letter is a proven approach for dealing with Amazon listings hijackers, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. You’ll need to test the counterfeits and ensure your C&D is 100% legit before sending, which brings us to #3.
#3. Buy the counterfeit product and collect proof.
As Casey mentioned, test purchases are essential to backing up your claims. To make sure it’s a hijacker and not a reseller, buy the product and compare it to yours.
Take side-by-side pictures to document the differences.
Pay special attention to packaging, branding of the product, and the material and colors. All of these elements can help you make a clear and undeniable case.
How to Protect Amazon Listings from Future Hijackings
Anyone who’s been through it will tell you, it can be hard to stay ahead of a determined hijacker.
After all, even Amazon’s own listings get hijacked. But thankfully, there are practical measures you can take to safeguard your listings in the future.
Amazon’s Transparency program can be a great way to reduce the number of counterfeit products circulating in the market. Under this program, each item your brand sells is equipped with a unique transparency code scanned by Amazon before packing. This means you can rest easy knowing the chances of customers buying hijacked goods is low.
As mentioned, the Amazon Brand Incubator Program and Project Zero are also great opportunities for increasing your leverage against hijackers. They are particularly if you’ve already gone through the process when building your Amazon Storefront. You can also include certain offers like money-back guarantees or product bundles that your hijackers won’t be able to offer. Taking preventative measures like these can help you save time and money. Not only that, you’ll be able to sleep better knowing your listings are much less likely to get hijacked.